What does faith look like?
I don’t think we really know what faith looks like in ourselves until we are faced with the kinds of challenges we least want to face. Perhaps, this truth is why Paul tells the Romans:
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Challenging times are the reason why living as much like Christ as possible even during regular times is so important. The more your Christianity is a way of life, the less likely you will allow stressful times to direct you away from God.
I have been paying particular attention to the ways that other people with challenging times handle them lately because I am personally juggling so many things. Those Christians I’ve observed who seem to stay close to Christ during hard times share a unique trait. They have the distinct ability to choose to love Christ and follow His ways, no matter how many bad things happen to them. Here are three examples of this choosing ability:
- The author, Charles Martin, on blogging about his natural fears about his dad’s serious cancer diagnosis, concluded, “Lord, the promise of Your Word is truer than my fear.” Instead of blaming God for his dad’s illness or giving in to doubt, Martin reminds himself that the Bible is full of promises that God has our back, even when we are at our lowest point. God promises us peace, a burden that is light, and to keep our paths straight. David writes, “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).
- A young woman of my acquaintance who is a generation younger than I am has been teaching me quite a few lessons about choosing lately as she shares her challenges about the divorce her husband insists on getting from her. One day, she talked about how low she had been feeling earlier in the day. The only way she was able to lift her mood was to remind herself that she had joy in Christ to claim that she was not going to let Satan steal from her. I was profoundly moved by this attitude that shows such a spiritual maturity. So many times, I forget to claim the joy that is believing in Christ because I am busy worrying. My young friend’s reminder that the devil is a real person who takes every opportunity to get between me and God was a strong lesson in the power of our ability and need to choose.
- Finally, a good friend said to me the other day that “sometimes you just have to adopt a Pollyanna attitude.” As a Christian, that means I need to embrace the promise God makes to work all things to the good for those who believe in Him (Romans 8:28). Every time I have a negative or worrying thought, I can choose to stop myself and believe instead that God will help me through whatever happens to me. I cannot expect to live a life without challenges, but if I choose to look at those challenges with a positive attitude, I am that much closer to persevering and feeling the love of God.
Choosing to believe that God loves me is what it means to walk by faith. But that choosing isn’t just a one-time thing. I have to make choices every day, from moment to moment, about how I will think and what I will do that will keep me close to God, which means grabbing the peace that is the promise of Christ.